Deskside

True Story: The Entrepreneur Behind Our Favorite Newsletter Launched Her Company as a College Sophomore

How 22-year-old Daniella Pierson is elevating inboxes everywhere.

By: Leah Faye Cooper
Photography: Alec Kugler

In typical overachiever fashion, 22-year-old Daniella Pierson forwent a college experience filled with parties and debauchery for one spent building a business. The Jacksonville, Florida, native was a sophomore at Boston University when winter break boredom struck and she decided to channel her entrepreneurial spirit into launching Newsette, a daily email newsletter curated with style and pop culture stories from around the web along with original content. “I was looking for something to become passionate about, and I thought, ‘OK, What do I love doing the most? Reading magazines—but I don’t have time to do that anymore because I’m so busy with school,’” Pierson says of the idea. “So I thought it would be great for me to start a newsletter that would arrive in your inbox, tell you everything you want to read, [and] you could get through it in about five minutes.” While in school, Pierson built Newsette from a one-off email sent to a handful of friends to a newsletter that currently has upwards of 200,000 subscribers.

Earlier this year Pierson moved to New York City, where she and her four-person team run Newsette from their office in Gramercy. We recently dropped by to chat with Pierson about her Florida upbringing, her news preferences, and what it takes to run a business—when you’re barely old enough to drink.

 

She gets her business acumen from her parents:

“I knew I wanted to start my own business one day because both of my parents are entrepreneurs. [They] own several car dealerships, and I grew up going to work with them every weekend—going to the meetings and seeing how they interacted with people. I always knew that I wanted to do that one day too, but I had no idea what industry. I knew it wasn’t the car industry though [laughs].”

The first Newsette newsletter was sent on a whim:

“The day after I had the idea, I sent out my first newsletter, and I had no idea what I was doing. The format was horrible, and there were a million typos, but I just wanted to get something out there. I sent it to about eight people; I just took off running. I didn’t take any time to actually think about it!”

 

She sticks to uplifting news:

“I feel like your morning is so influential to the rest of your day, so I want our reader to wake up, read Newsette, and be like, ‘OK, I’m ready for my day,’ and be motivated and inspired. We don’t include politics at all or anything that’s even mildly negative. We want to make sure that the newsletter isn’t going to be a downer for our readers.”

There’s a long list of women she admires:

“I think Katia [Beauchamp] from Birchbox has built a great brand, and I loved Sophia Amoruso’s book—she was such a hustler. I really like people who are revolutionizing brands that already exist, like Tyler Haney from Outdoor Voices. She started really young, and she took a business where there are the Nikes and the Lululemons of the world, and completely spun it on its head.”

 

She considers herself “obsessed” with her job:

“I wake up at 6 a.m. to write the Newsette. I find that I’m much more creative in the morning. I go to my office that I have in my apartment, get really comfortable, and make myself coffee. I use to have a Fruity Pebbles addiction, but that’s really bad for your health, so I’ve tried to curb that [laughs]. I spend about three to four hours in front of my computer with no breaks, just writing content and sending emails. Then I’ll get ready and come to the office around 10:30 or 11. I check in with [my team], then sit down, and I just continue to go through email after email. There are so many layers to this business. I remember someone once saying, ‘Oh, I subscribed to the Newsette. After you write it, what do you do all day?’ There’s so much. I have to constantly look for people to feature, research brands to work with, work with our developers... I go home at 5 and eat, but then from 7–11 p.m. I’m working again. I’m obsessed with Newsette—it’s all I think about.”

She believes in taking time for herself:

“On the weekends, I make sure not to do much work because I’ve realized that, for my mental health, and just in general, I need to relax and not be so worried all the time. I really love going to the movies and going to brunch. And I love walking around the city. When I was in college in Boston, doing school and the Newsette, I always had this picture in my mind: ‘I’m going to be in New York, and everything’s going to work out.’ So sometimes I just like to walk around and be like, ‘I’m here! It happened!’”

 

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